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Google Maps update ensures Assistant stays out of the way

The Android version appears to be rolling out now.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
December 3, 2018
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Google recently launched a slew of updates for Assistant, and now it's making its AI helper smarter and more discrete for Maps. Reddit user raddacle noticed that Assistant on maps now takes up very little space when it pops up, and keeps navigation open when you place calls and do other chores. The last version of Maps would instead open the dialer, reducing navigation to quarter-screen mode -- something that can be distracting while you're driving.

The only clue that the Assistant is even operating is a compact bottom bar that covers your ETA and distance ETA, while still letting you see turn-by-turn directions. You can activate it the usual way, by saying "OK Google" or tapping the microphone, which is now multi-colored instead of gray.

Google said it would unveil a less intrusive version of Assistant for Google Maps back in May 2018 at I/O. On top of making calls, you can also launch YouTube videos (to hear the sound, not watch the video), send texts and do other chores. Many of these features were already available on Android Auto, but of course, many of us with older cars just use our smartphones when navigating. It's only just started rolling out, apparently, so the feature might not arrive to your phone for awhile.

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